The findings come from independent research commissioned by Avaya, a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, into the impact of flexible working on SMEs in Germany and the UK. They suggest that while the majority of SMEs have a clear understanding of where they need to focus their efforts in order to respond to todays tough economic conditions and meet customer expectations, many of them are lacking the concrete procedures and tools to enable them to rise to the challenge.
Indeed many SMEs have already identified fundamental areas for improvement as well as the steps they need to take to set the changes in motion effectively. The area highlighted by SMEs as most pressing overall in meeting customer demands was finding more effective ways to balance staff resources and skills (48%). Providing access to staff at more convenient times was a key focus for the majority of decision-makers (41%), while almost as many (39%) stressed that the quality of service they offer could be improved greatly by enabling customers to access the right expert at the times that suit them.
And in pursuit of offering greater convenience, responsiveness and quality of service to customers and prospects, more than a third (34%) of SMEs acknowledged that offering employees more flexibility in their day to day working hours could be the key.
In fact, there is an overwhelmingly strong feeling of confidence among SMEs that more flexible working environments have the potential to significantly improve the way in which they communicate and deal with customers. Over four-fifths (84%) of decision-makers said they have a positive attitude towards flexible working and over half (51%) believe that it helps them to recruit and retain a loyal workforce one of the most important contributors in offering consistent, high quality, positive customer service.